Resentment turns to loathing in Iraq

Baghdad is a city where American occupation forces are hated, mistrusted and feared.

The US army patrols Baghdad's central Saadun Street
The US army patrols Baghdad's central Saadun Street

The overwhelming feeling is that the US has left a trail of broken promises, disappointment and wanton destruction in its wake over the past year.

Iraqi after Iraqi on Saadun Street – Baghdad’s main thoroughfare – told on Sunday they felt humiliated by the American presence in the capital.

They said life now was worse than before occupation forces invaded a year ago, and they wanted the Americans to leave immediately to let Iraqis sort out their own destiny.

And while Baghdadis would not openly encourage or condone resistance attacks against occupation targets, they say they understand why they take place.

American failure

Jumuaah, a 41-year-old shop owner, voiced the most familiar complaint – the Americans had failed to deliver on the basic necessities of life.

“Before it was safe under Saddam but he was bad and we wanted to get rid of him. But now there is no security, and we don’t have reliable water and electricity.

“After a year of broken promises, I don’t believe the Americans anymore. Any intelligent person knows they are liars. The Americans came here for political reasons – they want to dominate the whole world.”

He added: “They haven’t done anything for Iraq – it is really disappointing. I want them to leave now. There won’t be a civil war, insha Allah, because time will sort things out.”

Broken promises

Ala Abd Allah, a stationery shop assistant, also called on the Americans to leave Iraq.

“The United States promised us a lot, that there would be rebuilding, that life would return to normal. But they haven’t delivered,” he said.

Scores of unemployed Iraqi men hunt for jobs

Scores of unemployed Iraqi men
hunt for jobs

“It is good that they removed Saddam, but life here in Baghdad is very dangerous. I can’t go out after 8 o’clock.

“[Occupation administrator Paul] Bremer sacked a million people from the army and the Ministry of Defence. Now all these people are unemployed and they are on the street doing nothing.”

Meanwhile, Mundhir Rashid, a 49-year-old who works in a bag shop, said no Iraqi could be pleased to see gun-toting American soldiers in the country.

“The chaos the Americans have caused has opened all the borders and now foreigners are coming into the country and causing all these explosions,” he said.

“Everyone knows Iraqi people would not do this – this has never happened before in Baghdad.”

Oil and tourism

He added: “The US came here for oil and, for all I care, they can take all the oil as long as they go away and leave us alone. We can survive off tourism. The Iraqi people has suffered too long. We have given our blood for this country.”

“The US came here for oil and, for all I care, they can take all the oil as long as they go away and leave us alone”

Mundhir Rashid, shop worker

And Azhar Hamadi, a 40-year-old optician, said the aggressive attitude of American soldiers made him angry.

“The way they point their guns at you is not good. They do it even if you are trying to help them. Americans must leave but have responsibility for making the place safe first.

“I am really not hopeful for the future. Just the other day a man across the street was killed by thieves. This is what has happened to Baghdad in the last year.”

Regime change

No one can deny that many Iraqis  have been happy to see Saddam Hussein removed from power by the US-led coalition last year.

It is also probably true that most Iraqis were willing to give occupation forces the benefit of the doubt in the first few months after invasion.

But now that the bitter reality of occupation has ceased to be a novelty, it appears patience with US forces is running thin.

Barely tolerated as it is, if the Americans stick around for too long, the resentment will only grow.

Source: Al Jazeera

More from News
Most Read